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Holt expects emotional game against Rams

Friday, October 16, 2009

(Photo)
Former Rams receiver Tory Holt is greeted by Jacksonville fans as he makes his way to the practice field for the first day of training camp in August. Holt was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection in his 10 seasons in St. Louis.
(PHIL COALE ~ Associated Press)
The former St. Louis star is the Jaguars' leading receiver in his first season with Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Torry Holt expects to feel all sorts of emotions when he sees former teammates and coaches Sunday.

He won't rule out tears, either.

Holt, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection during his 10 seasons in St. Louis, will face his former team for the first time when the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) host the Rams (0-5).

Bitterness? Showmanship? Maybe a little revenge?

Nope. Just handshakes, hugs and high-fives.

"I have a lot of feelings for that organization, for that team and for a lot of those guys that are on that squad," Holt said. "So whether I cry, I get charged up and run through a brick wall, or I fall down -- I don't know what it'll be -- but I'll ride the wave of the emotions."

Holt caught 869 passes for 12,660 yards and 74 touchdowns with the Rams. He also had 47 receptions for 630 yards and four scores in 10 postseason games.

He was one of the most consistent receivers in the league for nearly a decade, averaging 94 catches and 1,385 yards during an eight-year span beginning in 2000. He was equally impressive off the field, creating charitable foundations, working as a spokesman for awareness groups and doing just about anything asked of him in the community.

Without question, it was difficult for Holt leave St. Louis.

But he knew it was time to go.

"It probably was best for them, and it probably was best for myself to kind of move on, get a fresh start," Holt said.

The Rams released Holt in March to avoid paying him a $1.25 million roster bonus and free up $8 million under the 2009 salary cap. He signed a three-year, $13 million contract with the Jaguars a month later. The deal could be worth $20 million with incentives.

"In their situation, it may have come down to money, and probably on my behalf it came down to money to a certain extent," said Holt, who ranks 10th in NFL history with 891 receptions and 12th with 12,966 receiving yards.

Holt had grown increasingly frustrated with the Rams, who had fallen flat in recent years after being a perennial Super Bowl contender for the first part of his career.

Holt sidestepped questions about the decline of the franchise. But he smiled when recalling the "Greatest Show on Turf," the nickname given to the Rams when Holt, fellow receiver Isaac Bruce, quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk and an offensive line anchored by left tackle Orlando Pace made them one of the most potent offenses in NFL history from 1999 through 2001.

"We were at a special place in time when we were winning games and when we were good," said Holt, the sixth overall pick in the 1999 draft. "We had a lot of good players who are no longer there and are on other teams and are playing well. But that's the way this game is, that's the way organizations are. You have to replace guys and move on, and hopefully these guys you draft and bring in come in and play well.

"I think in their situation, a lot of that hasn't panned out for them."

Holt's production dipped last season as St. Louis struggled to score points. He finished with 64 catches for 796 yards and three touchdowns, his fewest receptions and yards since his rookie season and the lowest TD total of his career.

Holt acknowledges that he's lost a step -- no surprise since he's 33 years old -- but he believes he makes up for it with precise routes and good hands.

He leads the Jaguars with 22 receptions for 306 yards and has extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 158.

"It's huge. It means a lot," he said. "The work that has been put in and the sacrifices that I've made in order to even have a record like that it takes a lot. It means a great deal. I think it's a testament to durability, it's a testament to work ethic, it's a testament to attention to details, a testament to how much I love and appreciate this game."


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